The Paleolithic (or "Paleo") diet is currently very popular and many versions of this way of eating exist. It is based on the idea that we should eat like our ancestors ate. Basically we used to eat what we could catch (animal meat) or grow without processing (herbs and vegetables). In our modern world, if you were following a Paleo diet, you would eat mostly (or all) "whole" foods and limit foods that have been processed to any degree.
This means that you can eat foods like meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and some oils (olive or nut oils for instance). In our version of Paleo, we have also included limited amounts of cheese or yoghurt, and legumes such as lentils and beans.
Foods you would not eat foods include grains (like breads and cereals), sugars (like in cakes and biscuits), and highly processed oils (such as canola or sunflower).
It might suit you if: you believe in this kind of philosophy around foods or if you like foods with a higher fat content like cheese and nuts, and don't mind severely limiting the amount of bread and grain based foods that you eat.
It might not suit you if:you would find it too hard to give up "starchy" foods like bread, rice, pasta, or breakfast cereals and convenience foods like pre-prepared meals or packaged food.
Generally when people try and lose weight, they need to reduce their energy intake by a small amount every single day (about 500 kilocalories or 2000 kilojoules). For lots of people this is really hard because it means constantly thinking about what they are eating and always trying to eat a bit less every day. Like with the Paleo approach, there are lots of different ways of doing intermittent fasting, however we are going to use the 5:2 approach.
This means that for five days a week you eat normally.
For the other two days, you severely restrict your food intake to about one-quarter of your normal intake i.e., you "fast". For most people, this might be having a small low energy breakfast like porridge, nothing for lunch, and a big plate of green vegetables with a small portion of lean meat for dinner.
It might suit you if: you don't like having to change your diet too much, or don’t want to think about what you are eating all the time, or perhaps don’t have much time for food preparation.
It might not suit you if: you think you won't be able to eat very little for two days a week, or perhaps if you do all the cooking for the family – but won't be able to eat it those days.
People have been interested in the Mediterranean diet for a long time since it became clear that people from this part of the world seemed to be very healthy.
On this diet:
You will eat lots of fruit and vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, legumes (like beans and lentils), nut and seeds, with moderate amounts of fish or seafood, chicken, eggs and dairy products, and only small amounts of meat and sweet foods.
It might suit you if: you would like to follow a diet that is relatively low in meat, but contains lots of vegetables and salads, with liberal amounts of healthy oils and even a glass or two of wine!
It might not suit you if: you don't like fish or vegetarian meals.
Go for a walk at a comfortable speed every day if you can. We recommend at least half an hour a day, but you can certainly go for longer on some or all days if that suits.
Try to get at least half an hour a day of moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise. This is exercising hard enough that you feel like you are a bit out of breath but could still carry on a conversation. This might be walking briskly or jogging depending on your level of fitness, but other options could include cycling, swimming, aqua-jogging, dancing, or gym based exercise classes – whatever you enjoy.
Being "time-poor" (busy) is often used as a reason for not doing more exercise. If this is you – then we have a solution - HIIT or high intensity interval training! The research to date shows us that HIIT seems to be just as good for our health as less intense forms of exercise – yet it takes far less time to do. What does HIIT mean – essentially it involves doing some kind of exercise as hard as you possibly can for only few minutes a day, a few days a week. What exercise you do is really up to you – it could be running up stairs, sprinting fast or cycling as hard as you can on an exercycle. Extra equipment is not essential – we will provide you with lots of ideas on how to do HIIT at home or when you are away on holiday.
This is entirely up to you. We will provide you with advice and may make suggestions based on what you tell us about your lifestyle or what hasn't worked for you in the past, but you are free to pick whichever diet and exercise programme sounds right for you.